Sometimes finding vegan options when going out to eat can be challenging. Here I will share a few tips to ensure you are eating vegan even in what may seem to be difficult situations and/or restaurants with limited options.
If you are planning to eat at a restaurant the best thing you can do is look up their menu online. Depending on how much time I have or how challenging the options appear I may call ahead to see what they can offer. If I know someone who ate at the restaurant prior I may contact them for what they ordered and if they liked it.
If I am eating at someone’s home I will ask the host what options they may have. If I don’t know the host, I may ask someone who does and see if they know what options they may offer. If I’m not sure what the options are I may take an additional step. This would be to eat something before I go to ensure I won’t be starving at some point. I can’t remember a situation where I couldn’t find something offered that would hold me over till I left if I had something to eat prior to arriving.
I’ve used this technique in the past when meeting a group at a restaurant with what seemed to be limited options and the potential for being there for a period of time. I’ve never had an issue being hungry during the dinner in this situation. I do remember going to a sports bar with very limited options to watch a game. I kept fruit in my car and simply went out to it once at half time.
How to order or ask for something vegan
If I had a chance to do the preparation noted above I will reference that in some way when I’m ordering and may ask:
- “When I looked at your menu online, it looked like this item could be done vegan. Is that possible?”
- “I didn’t see a vegan option for the entree. I cannot have any dairy, eggs, meat or fish. What would you suggest?”
In some cases if the server shows any signs not being confident in what a particular menu item has in it or options to consider I will add something like:
- “Could you check with the chef/cook? If I have any dairy/eggs/meat/fish in the dish I will get sick.” Pick one or more of the animal products to use in the sentence depending on what your question is….dairy/eggs/meat/fish.
- “Could you check for me? I can have a really bad reaction to x.”
Although I am not allergic to these animal products they do cause inflammation to us all and will irritate or make me sick in some way, especially now that I don’t consume any of it.
If I’m at someone’s home I am much more subtle of course and may ask something like this:
“Could you tell me if there is any dairy/eggs/meat/fish in that dish? I’m vegan and can’t eat it. No worries if there is, just checking. Thanks.”
If there is and I did my preparation, I will not go hungry.
One thing I make sure of in every situation – it’s not about me. If a group is considering options where to eat I will go where ever the group decides and figure it out in the most difficult of situations. I really do consider it a fun challenge if eating out in what could seem like a challenging situation. Some of the most difficult I would say include bar and grills, steak houses, diners and BBQ restaurants.
If I didn’t have time to do any preparation and the menu looks rough I will ask the server:
- “I’m vegan…I can’t have any dairy, eggs, meat or fish. What would you recommend?”
- “I’m vegan…I can’t have any dairy, eggs, meat or fish. Do you make anything off the menu that may be an option?”
If the server struggles with coming up with options I may ask something like:
- “Could you check with the chef/cook? Sometimes they get really creative and come up with some amazing options.”
- “I see you have some pasta dishes. Could you make a pasta, with red sauce and grill some veggies to throw on top?”
Travel with snacks available
One final tip is to travel with a few snacks to hold you over in any situation. I rarely leave my home without a small bag of snacks or a banana. Fasting is also an effective technique that has great benefits too.
I hope you found these tips helpful. Try to do your best – prepare as much as you can prior to eating out, ask questions to clarify and/or identify options and be as flexible as you can. I find if you are comfortable in the why you eat this way it’s very easy to engage in any situation as difficult as it may seem.
– Add Health to Your Life
Featured Blog Photo
- Post Crystal River Triathlon race last week at the Breakfast Station restaurant with very limited vegan options…I actually had to send my toast back as I forgot to say “no butter” after requesting no animal products…always need to validate what comes out. Here I chose to have grilled potatoes and assorted veggies along with a side of wheat toast…it worked!
- Pictured left to right at our table – Christine Valdes, Tim Valdes, JC Laverde, Jeff Turner, and myself